Two Years Of Supporting Afghan Scholars, Students, and Artists

In the two years since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, IIE and our global network partners have been working to ensure the safety and welfare of students, scholars, and artists threatened by the political shift. Here are profiles of individuals who our programs have supported.

Two years ago, Elja was working at the Afghan National Gallery in Herāt when the Taliban seized control of the government in Afghanistan. As a female artist and an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, Elja was left with no choice but to flee her home country.

I didn’t feel safe… I couldn’t believe that night when, among the noise of bombs, shootings, and rockets, our beautiful Herāt fell. Although I was still alive, I had become like the walking dead. I decided that I had to get out of the country. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I had to.”

Sharifa ‘Elja’ Sharifi

She found refuge at Cornell University through IIE’s Artist Protection Fund (APF), the only global program that provides artists across métier with fellowship funding, placement, mentoring, and inclusion in a comprehensive network of artistic and social support. Since the political upheaval, eight Afghan artists have been awarded the APF fellowship, with host institutions secured in Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, and the U.S.

What would you do if you were barred from working or getting an education simply because of your gender? This became the harsh reality faced by many women in Afghanistan.

Akbari was teaching on a voluntary basis at Jawzjan University with aspirations to secure a full-time position when the Taliban took control of Jawzjan Province in early August 2021. This turn of events shattered the dream of every Afghan woman looking to contribute to the country’s development.

However, through IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund, the only global program that arranges and funds fellowships for threatened and displaced scholars at partnering higher education institutions worldwide, Akbari found safety and continuity at Tampere University in Finland.

The support of IIE-SRF is a life-changing opportunity, ensuring my safety and well-being while enhancing my knowledge and experience.”

Sweeta Akbari

Since 2021, 56 Afghan scholars have received fellowships at 32 institutions in 9 host countries through IIE-SRF, providing a path forward in the face of adversity.

Through IIE’s Odyssey Scholarship, a comprehensive scholarship package for student refugees and displaced individuals, 25 Afghan students are now able to safely pursue degrees in the U.S., France, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.

When the Taliban took control of my country, my dreams of continuing my education in Cybersecurity seemed shattered. With my professors gone and the university in their grasp, my hope faded away. But then, IIE appeared as a beacon of light, offering me a scholarship.”

Mohammad Nasir Moradi

What began as an emergency effort to evacuate at-risk Afghans in 2021 turned into the largest single-country scholarship for displaced students in higher education.

Together with The Afghan Future Fund, Schmidt Futures, Education Above All, the Yalda Hakim Foundation, and the Qatar Fund For Development, we launched the Qatar Scholarship for Afghans Project (QSAP), a scholarship program that supports displaced Afghan students to study in the U.S.

I’ll sculpt a future where education transcends, empowering dreams to flourish unhindered.”

Farahnosh Yousofi

Through the QSAP, more than 45 U.S. colleges & universities have opened their doors to 100 Afghan refugee students to date, and half of the first cohort are women.

Nezaami is one of 56 scholars awarded the IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund fellowship since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan two years ago.

Through my IIE-SRF fellowship, I have been able to receive continuous support for my activities in teaching the next generation of Afghan lawyers and have been able to contribute to women’s education in the country.”

Nasiruddin Nezaami

He continues to teach online at the American University of Afghanistan. Nezaami also mentors a cohort of female law students and recent graduates from Afghanistan’s Kabul University.

Support Afghan students, scholars, and artists